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About the O'Connell Initiative

During the last five hundred years capitalism emerged in its mature and developed form as a result of European encounters with the rest of the world. Despite occasional resistance, it has become the dominant means of production, exchange, and consumption of human and material resources throughout the world. Its system of relations has created unimaginable wealth as well as forms of inequality and environmental waste. While many have embraced its modes of production, some, especially in the 20th century, resisted it with alternative economic models. We believe that history — read on a global level -- offers powerful analytical methods for thinking about the transformative aspects of capitalism.

The O’Connell Initiative for the Global History of Capitalism is a forum for intellectual exploration. It brings together scholars of every aspect of capitalism, from its earliest medieval manifestations to its twenty-first century consequences across the globe. It supports groundbreaking research and teaching on global capitalism and engages with the public through lectures, debates, and workshops.

The O’Connell Initiative in the Global History of Capitalism is supported by generous gifts from Fordham alumnus Robert J. O’Connell, FCRH '65

About Robert J. O’Connell, FCRH '65

Fordham University, B.A., History, 1965
University of Pennsylvania, M.A., European Economic History, 1966

Mr. O’Connell began his career as an assistant professor of economic history at Fairfield University (1968-1970). He moved into the insurance business when he joined the New York Insurance Co. in 1970. He was vice president of that company from 1983-1986 and senior vice president from 1986-1989. From 1989-1991, Mr. O’Connell served as senior vice president of the group management division at American International Group (AIG). He later was CEO of AIG Life Insurance Co. and served on the board of AIG Life.

Mr. O’Connell joined MassMutual in 1998 and was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer in January 1999. He was subsequently appointed Chairman of the Board in January 2000.

While a student at Fordham, Mr. O’Connell was president of his freshmen class. He was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Council of Debate, and was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow.

In 2015, Mr. O’Connell established the O’Connell Initiative at Fordham, a forum for intellectual exploration, bringing together scholars of every aspect of capitalism, from its earliest medieval origins to its twenty-first century consequences in the Global North and the Global South.